February 19, 2016

Am I In Any Form of Rebellion Against God? (Lent 2)

The Readings for the Second Sunday in Lent remind us of the terrible consequences of rebellion; and our need to examine our own lives to see if we are in any form of rebellion against God. Jesus grief over Jerusalem in the Gospel reminded me of my own grief over some of my family members and friends who are in a state of rebellion against God. Like Jesus we all know how hard it is to get those in rebellion to see their rebellion as pride, selfishness and self-deception. They think they are the smart ones and that believers are the deceived ones. The readings remind us that this is an old and sometimes unsolvable problem – and to stay focused on our own acts of rebellion.

1. In Genesis (15.1-18) Abram is questioning the power of God

Abram is very old and wants a son to inherit his estate. Even though he has a Covenant with God and has seen the power of God working in his life; he is questioning the power of God. In the reading he is promised land and children – countless descendents:
·         He believes God and God credits this as “Righteousness”
·         “Righteousness” = in right relationship, Covenant relationship
·         Abram shows his love of God by believing in / trusting God
·         God re-seals the Covenant by accepting the sacrifice
·         God appears as a torch to pass between the two halves of a sacrifice of animals.

2. Paul warns Philippians (3.17-4.1) to “stand firm in the Lord”
He is writing to his beloved first church plant in Europe - a Christian community that has experienced the love, joy and hope of forgiveness and eternal spiritual life in personal relationship to Jesus Christ.:
·         But now there is a problem
·         They are having conflicts
·         Some are “living as enemies of the Cross of Christ”
·         Probably don’t think they need forgiveness through the Cross
·         Their mind is on earthly things – gluttony
·         Their real god is their stomach and a life of shame
·         Their destiny is personal spiritual destruction (no eternal spiritual life)
In contrast Christian believers are “citizens of heaven” (3.20)
·         They love Jesus and accept Him as Lord of their lives
·         They accept God’s covenant offer of forgiveness for acts of rebellion (sin) repented, confessed and taken to the Cross
·         They have made a home for the Holy Spirit to live in their personal spirit to guide, heal, comfort and correct them
·         They live with one foot already in Heaven, another on Earth
·         They already have an eternal spiritual life of love, joy, peace
·         This reminds us to examine our own lives very carefully for signs that we are slipping into rebellion against God

3. Jesus models what we should do - He weeps over Jerusalem
Lucille and I have visited the church built on the spot where Jesus is supposed to have wept over Jerusalem. It was a powerful experience being there. It must have been incredibly more painful for Jesus. The Temple was still standing but He knew how corrupted it had become. He knew why many people had rebelled against God. They had rebelled because the Faith of their fathers had become corrupted by false teachers and the animal sacrifices appeared unreliable as a means to forgiveness and right relationship with God.
·         Rebellion is what happens when you love people enough to give them free will – “if it loves you it will come back”
·         Free will includes the right to chose to reject the one who reaches out to you in love.
·         We all have friends and family who have rejected Jesus
·         We all weep at seeing their life so spiritually “desolate”
·         But all we can do is continue to proclaim by our lives and words the Good news of God’s grace, love, forgiveness and healing
·         Love bears all things, hopes all things – love never gives up.

The Readings challenge us to examine our lives and ask “Am I in any way in rebellion against God”.  We can then repent, ask for forgiveness and be free of any spiritual pollution as we grow in our spiritual life as citizens of Heaven.

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